Live from the Blog Box tonight for the Newport SoundIsles against the New Jersey Devils. Drew Fata, Matt Keith, Kip Brennan, Joey MacDonald... my son's kindergarten class has a higher average age than this crew. But we love the kids - they're playing for jobs, which means they're at least playing for something.
Isles looking to improve to 7-1 against the Devils this season, and the Hummer Metro Ice title is within sight. So they're 6-1 against the playoff-bound Devils. I know I've mentioned it before, but it warrants mentioning. Who did we lose to?
Isles news today - they signed recent Colorado College defenseman Jack Hillen to a two-year deal. A free agent, Hillen was the top-scoring defenseman in Division I college hockey with 6 goals and 31 assists in 41 games. He could make his NHL debut against the Rangers. An outstanding pickup for the Isles, who add to their stable of young talent.
I have to admit I'm a bit distracted with Pedro pitching for the Mets tonight against the Marlins. Pedro's first two batters of the season: HBP and a two-run homer. Ouch. Read all about it at Metsfanclub.com. Please.
Devils on the power play, a shooting gallery but MacDonald comes up big, and so does Freddy Meyer, who gets his stick on a shot headed for an open net. Isles kill it off. Can we get a JO-EY MAC! chant started or what? (C.J. Papa suggests 'GO JOE GO' - that works.)
Vasicek scores - in the Dave & Buster's Power Minute! Just 51.7 seconds left and the Devils cough it up at their blueline, thanks to a diving effort by Bill Guerin. Vasicek picks it up, dekes
Martin Brodeur and puts a backhand into the net. Isles up, 1-0, after one.
Getting ready for the start of the second - nice to hear Jiggs McDonald doing the play-by-play again tonight. Jiggs and Eddie will always have a place in our hearts.
FYI, the NYI Mobile fan poll tonight is, "Who is the Isles' MVP - Hunter, Guerin or Park?" Gotta go with Park. The guy's done everything Nolan's asked for this season and brings it nightly.
Devils tie it on the power play, their third advantage of the game courtesy of a penalty called on Okposo - his first foul of the season. Goal scored by Elias on a slapper from the left point. By the way, too many Devils fans in the house tonight. Go back to Joisey!
The more I think about it, the more I dislike the fact that the Isles play on 'MSG Plus.' It's not so much who owns it, but the name. Can't they just call it SportsChannel again? So we feel like we're not second-class citizens?
Left pad save by MacDonald, who's playing well tonight. Tom Liodice at The Tiger Track says Joey has had a fine season at Bridgeport. End of two, and it's still 1-1.
We had a meeting of the minds pregame with all the Blog Boxers, and I had a chance to sample some of Clark Gillies 2007 Chardonnay. You can, too, tomorrow in Farmingdale. Read all about it here, in an article written by our own Dee Karl. It's all for a good cause. There's also a 2005 Pat LaFontaine Cabernet Sauvignon. How did the Gillies wine taste? Audacious and crisp - and definitely not fruity.
Meanwhile, in Florida, the Mets have come back from 4-0 down to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. Not a good night for Pedro, who apparently pulled a hamstring or something. Damn.
Back to the game, where the Devils are outshooting the Isles, 38-18 with 8:40 left in the third. Devils clinch their playoff spot with a win tonight, so we're playing spoiler. Again. (Sigh.)
One of the Blog Box favorites tonight (particularly Tiger Track Tom) is Kip Brennan, up from Bridgeport. Check him out on YouTube for some of his greatest bouts, including one with a fan. Fun for the whole family.
Three minutes left and Guerin has a chance on the doorstep, stopped by Brodeur. Less than a minute left, and MacDonald comes up huge, stoning Elias and then the rebound. A little "Old MacDonald" on the organ here at the Coliseum. Nice.
Oooooovertime! Ouch. Just 29 seconds in, Devils score on a deflection by Parise. Devils are in, Isles have two more against the Rangers and that's all, folks.
MacDonald I thought he played a very solid game.
Especially with the number of people we have out we have to make sure we keep it as simple as we can. And it worked in the first period. That's a very talented team on the other side.
Sutter is a real good coach in this league and his team is well-prepared. They play strong, fundamental hockey and that's the type of team that wins in the playoffs. We match up pretty well against them.
I thought Matt (Keith) did well, especially with the limited ice time that he had. I thought he showed great poise and good skill when he knocked that pass out of the air and walks in and had a good shot. First time seeing him, I was impressed.
This is a great test for a lot of these young kids, to see how they react. It's good to play one good game, but to see if you can play two or three in a row, and to play at this level you have to play at a consistent level. So far, so good.
It's a long season and young legs are very important. You have 22 or 23-year-old kids full of energy.
We have a lot of talent on this team, a mix of young guys and old guys, we have Okposo and Comeau and guys like Spiller playing almost every night between here and Bridgeport. It was a tough loss, you don't want to lose the game but they got a break at the end when they got a stick on it and it changed direction, but overall it was a pretty good game.
That's how they score a lot of goals - ugly goals, jamming it in, getting their sticks on it a lot of times. Overall I thought I saw the puck pretty well tonight, and I tried to keep all the rebounds to myself, and the ones I didn't, the 'D' were there to kick them out.
(On familiarity with the other former Sound Tigers): I think it's huge, playing all together down there. You kind of know what everybody's doing, and what to expect. We've got Spills and Fata playing there, you see them every game, and they're just keeping it simple. They're logging a lot of minutes there and a lot of minutes up top. It's easier when you've got a bunch of guys you've played with all year.
It's not a good situation to be in, you don't want to be out of the playoffs, but you've got to stay positive. The guys that don't have contracts, those guys have got to step up and perform and try to earn a job for next year. The guys that do, you have to earn their respect from the coach and play as well as they possibly can.